Challenge Idea: Count Your Zzz’s

This March, challenge each of your department members to improve their sleeping habits as part of National Sleep Awareness Week (March 7-13). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day. With overnight emergency calls and required “watch” hours, it is often hard for first responders to get the recommended amount of sleep.

Depriving yourself of sleep is not healthy. People who do not get adequate sleep increase their chances of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. In addition, sleep-deprived firefighters may not perform well and will not be as alert as well-rested firefighters. Tired firefighters can be a safety risk. Firefighters and EMTs should consider taking naps before shifts or going to bed earlier to get as much sleep as possible before the nightly calls come in.

Challenge Rules:

  1. Calculate your average amount of sleep per day/night. Compare your average to the recommended amount. Record your hours on the Count Your Zzz’s chart.
  2. Strive for at least 7 hours of sleep per day. Plan out your day accordingly, which may include cutting out your favorite TV show in order to get to bed earlier, or ending evening plans early.
  3. You have successfully completed this challenge when you have reached 20 days with at least 7 hours of sleep during the month of March.

To motivate your department members, try sending out weekly emails explaining the importance of rest and tips on improving sleep. Seek out ways to improve sleep as a department, such as asking night crews to go to bed by a certain time. If you see a fellow firefighter dragging from lack of sleep, point them to the bunkroom! Visit the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program web site to view more information on leading a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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